So she started an “orphanage” to take kids in need under her wing (that’s in quotes because some of the kids still have parents who just can’t care for them). From the beginning it was a rocky road trying to find funding and how to really best take care of these kids in need, but because of Botevy’s faith and perseverance “Cambodian and International Children Friend Community” (CICFO) is alive and running beautifully today…
…and it is a pretty amazing place, I tell you!
I had always been fascinated by pictures of Angkor Wat which drew me to Cambodia (coming next), but a few years ago when I got an email from a friend telling me about CICFO something in my heart made me determined we’d go there some day. My friend had sent bios of the kids who lived there and something about those stories spoke to me like nothing else. I was dying to meet them.
And they certainly didn’t disappoint.
We tried to think of a good service project we could do for/with them that day, but Botevy told us the best thing we could do with the short amount of time we had was just to visit.
So we did.
And I think everyone in our group would agree that the best day of the whole trip was the one we got to spend in the oppressive Cambodian heat amidst the kids at CICFO.
With the help of Botevy, this small little place at the end of a bumpy road is the home of the sweetest, most kind and welcoming “family” I have ever met.
My friend had told me that the spirit in that place was quite amazing, and she was right. We arrived to hugs and huge smiles from every one of them and then a little welcome ceremony where they told us their names and sang us some songs.
Then we shared our little art project to “break the ice” a little bit.
I will never forget the feeling of seeing my children snapping into action, surrounded by those sweet Cambodian ones, clearly enamored by each other in the oppressive heat under the green tarp they had put up for shade on a hot September day.
Jake taught them origami:
And Claire taught them the “art” of rainbow loom elastic bracelets (although a few of them were already experts).They made those woven bracelets…aren’t they great?
They fed us lunch.
I loved sitting on the hard floor sharing a meal with them, surrounded by books and wide smiles.
For the rest of the afternoon we just made friends. Lucy read them some books:
Taylor taught them some mean dance-moves:
Claire played soccer with them for hours.
We played pat-a-cake games galore.
Dave made them laugh trying to get to know their names.
One of my favorite parts of the day was getting to know this cute boy here in the middle below: Our families get to help sponsor him on his upcoming mission for our church. He is one of the most prepared young men to go spread happiness I have ever met, so excited to go out and serve for two years. Can’t wait to hear where he gets called.
After all the hoopla of the afternoon, it was time to get ready for the dance performance they wanted to do for us.
They were totally traditional Khmer (Cambodian) dances performed so beautifully by the kids, complete with face paint to make it more authentic.
First we had our own little Family Home Evening with them and a few of them, including Socheath, the one leaving on his mission soon, gave some beautiful thoughts.
Then the dance performance began.
It was performed on a green tarp in the middle of a courtyard of construction, which somehow didn’t take away of the beauty of the dances. (The kids take dance classes each week and they really soak it all up.)
We knew they were all good dancers, but didn’t realize just how good until we saw a professional dance performance the next night.
I liked the kids’ rendition of the traditional dances the best.
After all the dances were over, they invited us all up onto their “stage” to dance with them.
Loved it all.
We were in charge of dinner, and decided on hamburgers, which you can tell they were really sad about.Ha!
Then we said our sad goodbyes.
We left with new kindred friends woven into our hearts (Botevy is on the left, her daughters on the right).
…and inspiration to try to lift where we stand a little more just like wonderful Botevy has done in her own corner of the world.
So grateful for such great examples to live by.
And so grateful for CICFO and what it taught me and my family on that hot-as-blazes day tucked in the back streets of Phnom Penh amidst those I now call dear friends.
For more information about CICFO and opportunities to donate to such a great organization, click HERE.
What a wonderful experience! I too have also had a special place in my heart for Cambodians after knowing the most amazing Cambodian woman from my mission. I was jealous when I saw your earlier pictures visiting the beautiful land, but to be among these kids just makes me so happy. Thank you for sharing this. When I clicked on the link for cicfo it would not load. Even when I googled the organization and clicked on their link it would not load. Do they frequently have internet problems and I should just check back?